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Body Dysmorphia


Tulip
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We have had the discussion about eating disorders amongst dancers, but what do we know about body dysmorphia and how serious can this become. Our dancers will very often feel they need longer legs, thinner thighs, want to be thinner etc, but when does this become a disorder and how common can it become in the dancing world?

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In purely medical terms - something only becomes a disorder once it has been diagnosed by a medical practitioner. This is the same for eating disorders... many many people suffer from disordered eating patterns but it can only be called an eating disorder, or given a name once it's been diagnosed.

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Yes but how recognised is it in the dance world? What is classed as 'normal' teenage obsession and are there signs when it is becoming out of hand? Vocational schools are better today at spotting an eating disorder but what about body dysmorphia? I know the girls are regularly comparing their sizes, leg length even their theigh widths. It does and is happening in all the vocational schools, especially at stages of vunrebility eg puberty, assesing out etc. I an not saying the dance world is promoting this, just asking how common is it amongs DANCERS .

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I bet it's really common in ballet students.Nearly everyone I know worries and compares their bodies and they don't have to wear a leotard everyday.But I have to say I have never even thought about it and have always been happy with my body.My dd on the other hand and she is very young does worry about having a perfect ballet body and its because of all the talk about the right physique for ballet.

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I think the question of how it's recognised in the dance world is the same as how is it recognised anywhere..... I think that as it is a fairly 'new' term/condition/disorder generally, it is probably not even something that is thought about all that much within the dance world. 

 

If I remember correctly, the research on diagnosed eating disorders (as opposed to disordered eating behaviours, as the latter is incredibly difficult to guage numerically) shows that there is no greater prevalence among dancers or athletes than in any adolescent population.

 

The trouble with finding out this kind of information is that as a researcher it is incredibly difficult to get an accurate picture of the number of sufferers, due to the ethical implications of getting the information (sufferers would need to give consent for the data to be collected, even anonymously), along with the basic research 'hiccup' of "when does a sufferer have the condition?" - the same applies for collecting data on injuries, as it relies on a dancer or a physio 'categorising' pain or suffering, which is largely subjective!

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When my daughter was younger she just danced - I wonder if in our 'open society' talk about weight/desireable body shape is being discussed too openly among young ears. 

 

Nothing wrong in being honest and open but as we hear so often those who are considered suitable for training at age 11, within a year they are no longer suitable.  There is no real blueprint just an idea of a few desireables.

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When my daughter was younger she just danced - I wonder if in our 'open society' talk about weight/desireable body shape is being discussed too openly among young ears. 

I agree with your comments, but I also think it is important that these issues are acknowledged and discussed.  Youngsters should never be made to feel their feelings are somehow taboo or shameful, or that they should keep quiet and hide them.

 

They need to know that others feel the same way they do, help and support is available to them, and that they are not alone in their distress.

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I agree with your comments, but I also think it is important that these issues are acknowledged and discussed. Youngsters should never be made to feel their feelings are somehow taboo or shameful, or that they should keep quiet and hide them.

 

They need to know that others feel the same way they do, help and support is available to them, and that they are not alone in their distress.

I totally agree. When I was a young teenager you didn't discuss your feelings nor admit to having them. I spent a long time very frightened of some negative thoughts and feelings I was having and instead of being heard and listened to and told it was a normal part of growing up, it was medicalised and I was labelled as ill and put on medication. It has taken me a long term to learn that feelings are ok and are not going to hurt me and that everyone has them and that I am not ill!

I think by the time a condition has been 'diagnosed' it is often too late! If a child has concerns about their figure or weight etc it needs to be talked about and they need reassuring that it is ok to have those concerns and feelings.

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I agree, but I think perhaps what Bankruptmum meant was that perhaps we as adults need to be careful when talking about other dancers' physiques in front of our children? I try not to do this but when my Parents very occasionally come to watch class, or even a show, they have both been known to comment rather disparagingly (and tactlessly) on the physiques of some of the dancers. That is the sort of comment that I would NOT like my dd to hear.

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I agree, but I think perhaps what Bankruptmum meant was that perhaps we as adults need to be careful when talking about other dancers' physiques in front of our children? I try not to do this but when my Parents very occasionally come to watch class, or even a show, they have both been known to comment rather disparagingly (and tactlessly) on the physiques of some of the dancers. That is the sort of comment that I would NOT like my dd to hear.

 

Thank you Spannerandpony that is exactly my thoughts.  I do think we are socially very guilty of speaking our minds in front of children when perhaps it isnt appropriate.  As an adult you can think about what you hear and make a balanced judgement and create your own view, children very often will absorb everything they hear and could draw the wrong conclusions.

 

It is very important for children to feel comfortable with their bodies and also feel able to discuss openly any concerns they have.

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I agree with you spanner and pony but sometimes I feel so discouraged when I realise that confidence in a child has so much to do with the personality it's born with. What I mean is this. I've spent all my daughters life telling her she's beautiful, bright, kind, good dancer and she's often racked with dissatisfaction with her looks and her dance abilities. My best friend is a great mum but often will tell her girl that , say, she's putting on weight, or what the hell is wrong with your skin etc, and this girl who has been blessed with cheerful self assurance laughs it off and goes off happily to the fridge for some ice cream. And yes, I also avoid talking about other kids physiques and I also try not to mention diets at all at home but my daughter still goes on YouTube and sighs over the stick thin Russian ballerinas and the conversation between her and her friends are often about who's thin, who's put on weight etc.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I personally think everyone suffers from this, whether it being self concious, body concious in daily life or ballet. Take the new 'thigh gap' craze for example. Body dysmorphia is something that has been going on in ballet and the human race for a long time, yet it hasn't been given a medical name.. until now

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It's when girls aspire to literally having a thigh gap when their feet are together.
examples-

http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lssqsc5lc01qkcwsm.jpg

 

http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m7fkvnTeo01qmdjjco1_500.jpg

 

Many of my friends want one, however what most girls don't realise is that it is largely determined by your bone structure, and anatomy of your pelvis/hips/thighs rather than weight. And also, many pictures they see of 'thigh gaps' are either edited or the gap is created by the person turning their feet inwards slightly. It's quite sad really and is very popular.

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Just didn't realise there was a "craze" attached to this look.  As Ruby says, it's not something that everyone could achieve anyway, due to bone structure - and personally it's not something I find attractive.  I'm so lucky my daughter has no interest whatsoever in fashion, celebrities etc - I thank my lucky stars even as I moan at her about wearing yet more scuffy looking tracksuit bottoms  ;)

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Shobna Gulati (just ex-Coronation Street) has just been on Loose Women.  I only came in part way through what she was saying but I heard her say that she has suffered from body dysmorphia for many years since her school days when she was bullied about her appearance at school.  She has only recently got a small mirror for her house.

 

Very sad.

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